I don’t claim to be an expert about bumblebees. Our hydrangea is in full bloom, and the bees are very busy gathering pollen from it. Normally I avoid it because of allergies to wasps, etc., but this time I noticed many, many bumblebees, so thought I would try taking some photos.
The bumble bee’s body is much thicker than a wasp and is hairy. I didn’t know before that only the female’s have stingers. The male (drone) does not have a stinger. However, the females can sting again and again since they don’t have a barbed hook on their stinger.
Their hind legs are designed to carry pollen, which you can see in the picture below. They only make enough honey for them to live on during the summer as all of them die except for the queen bees when it is fall. The queen bee then finds a place to hibernate for the winter, lays her eggs in the spring, and the cycle starts again.
It’s difficult to get a picture of a complete bumblebee as they burrow their heads into the flowers almost as soon as they land.
There are about 250 species in the world, and Canada has about 41.
The bumblebee gathers nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers. Apparently they prefer blue flowers, but will go to any colour. Colour certainly doesn’t seem to affect them around the hydrangea.
Compared to honey bees, their hives are relatively small. There are usually 150 – 200 bees and the hives are usually found underground in abandoned burrows. They will defend their hives, but they do not swarm.
I think it’s amazing how the bumble bees fly. Apparently they create a vortex of air with the down stroke of their wings. Sometime I’ll have to try a faster shutter speed to catch the wings. They can fly at a rate of three metres in a second.
There is much more to learn about a bumble bee. Even in something as small as a bumble bee, you can see the hand of God at work.